What Does Brightening Serum Do? 5 Benefits

If you lay down at night and dream of having smooth, radiant skin, look no further! Let us help make your dreams a reality by introducing you to a game-changing skincare product — brightening serums. 

Brightening serums are designed to support an even skin tone and overall complexion, creating a ‘brightening’ effect. While brightening may seem straightforward, it is generally a catch-all term for combining various skin benefits to give your skin a more youthful, even glow. 

A common misconception is that these serums directly lighten your skin. However, brightening serums tackle several troublesome skin concerns to reveal renewed and more vibrant-looking skin. 

We’ll explain how brightening serums work and the added benefits of incorporating a brightening serum into your routine and give you our favorite ingredients and products. 

How Do Brightening Serums Work?

Brightening serums, at their core, work with and support the skin in three distinct ways:

Combatting the Effects of Sun Damage

Brightening serums are usually packed with antioxidant ingredients that can combat oxidative damage from ultraviolet (UV) rays and pollution. Some of the best ingredients for combatting the effects of UV damage include green tea, ferulic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin E. 

UV damage can lead to the appearance of premature skin aging, wrinkles, and discoloration, making protection a valuable benefit of brightening serums. 

However, it is important to note that this does not replace your need for daily SPF — serums simply add an extra layer of defense.

Exfoliating the Skin

Let’s talk about reflection and light. When your skin is at its smoothest and most hydrated, it is best capable of reflecting light, giving your skin that effortless glow and brightness. But built-up dead skin cells can create an uneven, dry texture that diffuses light, leaving you with a dull, lifeless-looking complexion. 

This is why exfoliation is so important in the pursuit of brighter skin. Serums can incorporate a variety of alpha hydroxy acids (or AHAs) to provide this much-needed form of chemical exfoliation. 

What Are the Benefits of a Brightening Serum?

Aside from the obvious benefits of brighter, radiant-looking skin, brightening serums can provide a range of additional skin benefits. Not only can the right brightening serum revive a dull complexion, but it can also: 

1. Delivers More Ingredients in a Light, Non-Clogging Formula

Oily skin occurs when we experience an excess of sebum production that builds up in our pores and beneath the outermost layer of skin. It is a natural reaction for those with oily skin to shy away from layering extra products on the skin out of fear of exacerbating the issue. But, believe it or not, a brightening serum might be your next step toward more balanced-looking skin. 

A quality brightening serum is typically lighter in texture but more concentrated than other skincare products such as oils, creams, or other topicals. This makes brightening serums ideal for delivering valuable ingredients and moisture to the skin without further clogging pores or encouraging unnecessary build-up. 

2. Supports Skin Elasticity

As we age, we experience a natural loss of skin elasticity due to a gradual decrease in elastin and collagen production. Many serums, including brightening serums, include vital proteins and other ingredients that can support firm, youthful-looking skin.

Ingredients such as vitamin A, essential fatty acids, green tea, and vitamin C (our absolute favorite that we will keep mentioning) provide the powerful support needed to retain moisture for bouncy skin.

3. Improves Skin Texture

If your dream is to have dewy, soft, glowing skin, brightening serums should be in your skincare toolbox. We’ve already mentioned how impactful these serums can be with their exfoliating capabilities, leaving your skin with renewed texture. 

Brightening serums can help combat dull, discolored patches of skin that can cause stubborn bumps and dryness. 

4. Addresses Signs of Aging

Along with the many other skin-supporting benefits, a brightening serum can also aid in tackling the dreaded signs of aging. Aging skin is completely natural, but we would all love the opportunity to slow time down if given the chance. 

For targeting signs of aging, it is important to pay attention to the ingredients of your chosen brightening serum. 

Hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by helping to nourish and hydrate dry skin. More powerful ingredients like retinol can also help to smooth out your complexion while perfectly complementing a variety of other beneficial ingredients. 

5. Helps To Gently Cleanse Irritated Skin

Now we know brightening serums boast some impressive exfoliation, but due to this superpower, brightening serums also make for a useful tool when tackling breakouts. 

Everyone’s blemishes are unique, but if yours tend to flare from frequent build-up, shedding dead skin can help relieve your skin barrier of this excess debris. Exploring a brightening serum might be just the thing to help deliver cleansing ingredients that help optimize the skin barrier and give clogged pores a chance to breathe.

Ingredients To Look For in a Brightening Serum

Vitamin C is one of the most valuable and beloved ingredients in brightening serum formulations. This powerful ingredient is vital to skin radiance and can improve the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots, and blemishes.

Retinol is another one of our favorite skincare ingredients that will change the game in your routine. Retinol is a form of vitamin A often used for blemishes and signs of aging.

Retinol comes in many forms and is in serums due to its powerful effects. Retinol supports collagen within the skin, which can help hydrate and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, leaving you with more plump, nourished-looking skin.

Some of our other favorite ingredients (some we’ve already mentioned) include:

  • Vitamins C & E - Reduces signs of aging, provides antioxidant support to the skin, and improves the appearance of wrinkles, discoloration, and flare-ups.
  • Ferulic acid - Supports the effects of other existing antioxidants and protects overall skin integrity.
  • Glycolic and lactic acid - AHAs are helpful for exfoliating.
  • Niacinamide - Maintains skin elasticity and supports natural skin bounce and firmness.
  • Ceramides - Combats the appearance of aging and fine lines.
  • Hyaluronic acid - Delivers extra hydration and improves the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Retinol - Powerful form of vitamin A that combats signs of premature aging.

How To Use a Brightening Serum

In addition to all the other things to love about brightening serums, it is surprisingly simple to incorporate them into your daily skincare routine. Brightening serums are most effective during your morning skincare routine. 

Introduce brightening serums using the steps below:

  • Thoroughly cleanse the face and gently pat dry.
  • Apply toner of choice — hydrating toners are good for sensitive skin or if you want to keep your routine relatively simple, avoid toners with alcohol.
  • Apply two to three drops of your serum to the skin and gently massage the serum into your face using your fingertips. (You only need a few drops for your entire face — a little goes a long way with serum.)
  • Allow your serum to fully absorb before sealing in your routine with a moisturizer. 

Get Radiant Skin for Yourself

Brightening serums can be highly effective when used correctly and consistently, rewarding you with firmer, brighter, smoother skin. And Dēpology’s Power C Antioxidant Radiance Boosting Serum can do just that. 

Formulated with vitamin C, ferulic acid, goji berry extract, and ergothioneine, Power C has the ingredients your skin craves to get you a brighter, more youthful-looking complexion.

As with any new product, slowly introduce your brightening serum into your regular routine to allow your skin to acclimate to the change. Delivering antioxidants, proteins, and acids to even the most delicate skin, brightening serums are a perfect addition to take your routine to the next level.

Looking for more ways to rejuvenate tired skin? Explore Dēpology’s collection of innovative Korean skincare formulas here


Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications | PMC

Oxidative stress in human facial skin observed by ultraweak photon emission imaging and its correlation with biophysical properties of skin | PMC

Retinol | Cleveland Clinic